2008 Best on the Best: Chui Lee Luk, chef/owner, Claude’s, Sydney

I go to Pontip (16 Campbell St, Haymarket, NSW, 02 9211 2208) for Thai vegetables and confectionery, and Everspring (421-425 Sussex St, Haymarket, NSW, 02 9211 2980) for Chinese vegetables, as well as dried oysters, scallops, abalone and sea cucumber. Another must-stop is the Live Craft Centre (84 Dixon St, Haymarket, NSW, 02 9281 2828) for premium quality Chinese teas. When it comes to buying kitchenware, all the staff at Chef’s Warehouse (111 Albion St, Surry Hills, NSW, 02 9211 4555) are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. The Bay Tree (40 Queen St, Woollahra, NSW, 02 9328 1101) is great for French porcelain and English glassware. My favourite bottle shop is Five Way Cellars (4 Heeley St, Paddington, NSW, 02 9360 424). The staff there have got me to try English sparkling wine, obscure Champagne houses and various Trappist beers.

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Café My current favourite is Love Supreme (180A Oxford St, Paddington, NSW, 02 9331 1779) for breakfast or brunch on weekends. Everything is organic and/or handmade. I like their changing range of savoury tarts offered as an alternative to the usual fare of eggs, muesli, etc. Coffees aren’t bad either.

Winery Ashton Hills in the Adelaide Hills produces pinot noir that I have always enjoyed matching dishes to and drinking.

Drinking hole My ideal bar offers food accompaniments worthy of their wine/cocktail list. For this reason, I like MoVida (1 Hosier La, Melbourne, Vic, 03 9663 3038) Aperitif, (7 Kellett St, Kings Cross, NSW, 02 9357 4729) and North Bondi Italian Food 118-120 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi, NSW, 02 9300 4400).

Cheese One of my favourite cheese varieties is Gruyère, and I can’t get past Heidi’s  aged version (aged around 18 months). I like observing the development of the young cheese maker at Bruny Island (03 6260 6332), especially fond of the Tom.

Where you’re eating next I’d like to take some time out to explore Japanese cuisine in its native environment: find the specialist in Zen Buddhist vegetarian cuisine in Kyoto, say, or learn to appreciate the difference between Tokyo and Osaka interpretations of noodle soups (Masa, our sommelier, is from Osaka and doesn’t really like the Tokyo style that predominates in Sydney, I want to get to the bottom of this continuing area of contention between us), or explore the kaiseki tradition.

Claude’s, 10 Oxford St, Woollahra, NSW, (02) 9331 2325, www.claudes.com.au.

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